Photo: Craig Cappy Buford's Elexa Bahr (13) fights for control beside Decatur's Amani Bright (17) during high school girls soccer playoffs in Buford Thursday.
BUFORD -- Buford maintained its relentless offensive pressure the entire contest and eventually put three goals on the scoreboard as the Wolves rolled to a 3-0 win over Decatur in the opening round of the Class AAA girls' soccer state tournament.
Buford -- ranked No. 2 in Class AAA -- had narrowly defeated Decatur 3-2 back on March 12, but this time the Wolves were totally in charge even though the final margin was just three goals.
For the game, Buford put 24 shots on goal and accumulated 35 total shots at Decatur goalkeeper Kyle Drenner.
But much to her credit, Drenner came up with numerous big saves or the outcome would have been more lopsided.
In the end, Buford just had too much firepower on offense and a stifling defense that limited Decatur to just one shot on goal for the entire 80 minutes.
Buford struck quickly with a goal 27 seconds into the game as Brie Smith centered from the right side to Ann Schmidt, who found the back of the net to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
"The plan was to score fast and get up on them and then keep them down," Buford head coach Crystal Fowler said. "We wanted to be in control and that's what we did with the early goal."
However, that would be it for Buford in the rest of the first half, even though the Wolves took a total of 19 shots that included 12 on goal.
Buford also hit the post once and missed a wide-open goal on three other occasions. Plus, Drenner continued to be strong in goal for Decatur.
Meanwhile, Decatur (7-7-0) struggled just to get the ball into the offensive end and recorded one shot on goal in the opening half.
In the second half, Buford maintained its offensive push and that constant pressure finally paid off as the Wolves scored twice to put the game away.
Brie Smith scored at the 26:14 mark of the second half with an assist from Ceely Coker to make it 2-0 Buford.
The Wolves came right back just 59 seconds later to expand the lead to 3-0 when Schmidt scored her second goal of the game on a header with an assist from Jessi Vaverka.
"We couldn't find it to end it," Schmidt said of the early chances to build on the lead. "But we won it 3-0 and got three goals, so that's what matters. We may not be at our peak right now, but we're playing really well."
Decatur finished the final 20:01 a player down after Meredith Broyles received a red card.
But Buford was already well in control and cruised home with the shutout victory.
"Our defense really stepped up tonight and I told our girls they needed to pat our defense on the back," Fowler said. "They were locked in and focused. That's my reliable group right there. I don't take them out of the game and they know that. They just had a great game tonight and didn't make mistakes."
Buford remains undefeated at 17-0-0 and moves into the second round next Tuesday to face the winner of No. 8 Oconee County/Cartersville.
Buford defeated Oconee County 3-0 on March 6.